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Full text of "Flora Indica Vol-I"

INTRODUCTORY  ESSAY.                               255
the low valleys heavy rain falls at this season. Spring sets in
in March in the temperate zone, and with the change of the
monsoon (about the equinox or a little later) heavy rains oc-
cur, caused perhaps by the southerly direction of the mon-
soon wind, before the Indo-Gangetic plain becomes intensely
heated, and deflects that wind into a westerly current.
The general aspect of the whole of Afghanistan is that of a
desert. As the mountains rarely rise to the region of per-
petual snow, water is very scarce after the termination of the
spring rains \ but when the country was the seat of a great
empire, an energetic race of inhabitants conducted every avail-
able streamlet into artificial channels, by the help of which
an extensive cultivation is still carried on in many of the
valleys. Around the chief towns and many of the villages,
therefore, the country is beautifully verdant. The crops are
chiefly wheat and barley, even up to 10,000 feet elevation.
Rice is cultivated in great quantity at Jellalabad (2000 feetj,
at Kabul (6400 feet), and to a considerable extent at Ghazni
(7730 feet). Poplars, willows, and date-palm trees are ex-
tensively planted, as well as mulberry, walnut, apricot, apple,
pear, and peach-trees, and the Elaagnus orientalis, which also
bears an eatable fruit. The vine abounds, as in all warm and
dry temperate climates.
The flora of. Afghanistan is an extension of the Arabian
and-Persian, with a few Himalayan types. Prom the great
solar power, and the absence of rain-during summer, the
heat is excessive, so that the vegetation is that of a hot, dry
country. On the southern slopes of the Hindu Kiish the
great elevation of the chain produces more humidity than
elsewhere in Afghanistan; and there is therefore a forest belt,
which extends from 5000 to 10,000 fetet. These forests arc
entirely confined, to the mountains which rise out of the
valley of Jellalabad, and do not extend further west than the
69th. degree of longitude: elsewhere the country is extremely
barren, and almost destitute of tree vegetation. The trees are
chiefly oaks aud pines. There is also a pine forest on the